Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Territory and map

To re-look at an earlier discussion about abstraction's appeal, in which there were references to things and quasi-empiricism, we can use a slightly different terminology (territory, map) that lends itself to both concrete and metaphoric phrasings. Let's use 'territory' and 'map' and look at the problem of confusing the map for the territory. Generally, we don't see the other problem, though it will come into play to boot.

This may seem like a simple approach but hang on while we expand this theme through a few posts here and in the truth engineering thread.

Territory will be used in the sense of things, such as we can walk around our office or manipulate the keyboard. Now, map will be used for the abstractions, of very many types, that we encounter or use daily. An earlier things post mentioned how models and things could be recursively related.

This applies, as well, to territory and map. For instance, a map could be consider part of the things within a territory (say, a Rand McNally book, sitting on a table). As well, a territory could be within a map (say, within a virtual environment [Second Life, etc.] where some operation (mouse) on a graph embedded within the space starts a subprocess).

Hey, wait! What just happened? Well, we'll have to get used to the idea that a map might enclose territory. You see, it can become problematic real quickly to distinguish between territory (in the traditional sense [more below]) of things and territory within maps of things. You see, the computer is (or you could say contains) a map of things, though it, itself, is a thing. 'Second Life' was used in that a virtual experience can be very visceral (look at advanced simulators).

Actually, think of a vivid dream. So, where are the demarcations between the thing and the map. We have been building maps as territory for a long time. What has changed is that now we have this thing called the computer upon which we can build these in a persistent and public manner.

To go way back, we were mostly territory roamers (over nature's terrain) who learned how to have mental maps. As we progressed and extended the natural, we had maps passed through generations via media (books, etc.) and tradition (and, perhaps, other ways - think memes). Along with our progression was increased facility in mathematics (hence the quasi-empirical link) which for the most part relied upon human talent to both apply and to extend.

Ah yes. Since the mid-1900s, there has been another element added: computation and all its abilities (too numerous to go into here, but we'll be looking at this). Now, we have people thinking that their map-based territory/map on the computer may actually be equivalent to the thing-based territory/map. Get the drift.

Well, they are not equivalent in many ways. Can they be? It's interesting how well the effectiveness plays, in some cases. Simulators are used for training in lieu of actual flight time in the thing that is simulated (the airplane). But, one could ask the question, since simulation for re-training is the most common: could the entire education of the pilot be done via simulation?

Obviously not, for the same reason that medicine requires internship and residency for the MD.

Well, it could, but the knowledge of the pilot would be limited by what the simulator experience could show; that, of course, begs the question of whether the perfect simulator could be built.

Ah, that is related to one of the issues in the quasi-empirical discussions.

So, you see, territory and map are not so simple; these, and their relationships, will recur in future posts. (12/18/2008 -- These may be more of a problem in the ungrounded world of finance than in the naturally-based world of engineering and science)


04/19/2011 -- We have to get back to the basics.

09/14/2009 -- We'll need to look at UUUN, as a framework.

08/18/2009 -- Applies for both macro and micro views.

07/05/2009 -- It's taken awhile, but this message is becoming more apropos all the time.

12/18/2008 -- Well, things really fell apart in the 3rd Quarter of 2008. Of course, a technique called the tranche was one factor. Others include the players and the games. Now, games include using mathematics erroneously, as in getting an aura from the use of derivatives (to be discussed further). We'll have to re-address this map/territory issue.

08/01/2008 -- One place where the territory/map dynamic plays (many times with dire consequences) is in the realm of busyness and the market. So, to further the discussion, we will look at money and what it is.

Modified: 04/19/2011

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